New Civilization News: The Liberal Bias    
 The Liberal Bias9 comments
picture8 Jun 2005 @ 19:17, by Richard Carlson

Love the pitcher less, and the water more.

---Sufi saying

No one can live your life except you.
No one can live my life except me.
You are responsible. I am responsible.
But what is our life? What is our death?

---Maezumi Roshi

The point is to perform every activity, from playing basketball to taking out the garbage, with precise attention, moment by moment.

---Phil Jackson

From the free wallpapers at [link]

Saturday evening we went to a party at the home of some new friends at Ohio University. Our host is from Bangladesh, and he and his wife, of Irish descent, had brought together a most diverse group of individuals, tentatively to warm their new house and check out the construction of his wine well as its contents. There were couples from Bengal and Serbia, the local rural counties around Athens, and teachers at every level of education, many hailing, like me, from the Northeast. Faizul teaches in the College of Business, and some of his colleagues were invited. Dana and I agreed we wouldn't be talking politics in there. This would be a social occasion and we'd be on our best behavior.

But there was a young math teacher from Cincinnati, raised in Rhode Island of conservative Jewish roots, who had come to the party fresh from a round of golf. I noticed he and Dana had become engaged in intense conversation...and it was going on for quite a while. I continued becoming acquainted with the various fascinating folks, but eventually found myself close enough to Dana and her new friend to catch phrases like No Child Left Behind and that idiot Bush. They weren't arguing. I stepped in, ostensibly to change the subject, but they seemed to welcome my arrival. He is not a liberal, considers himself a centrist but has a history of voting Republican. However, he works in the public schools and finds his career increasingly hampered by conservative policies.

We commiserated for a while and the conversation began to move into the broader political spectrum. He said something very interesting to me. He said he thought liberals should stop being so defensive about the conservative charge that the news has a liberal bias. The very idea of news itself is a liberal idea, he continued. You aren't going to hear any news inside a closed institution. Why are we surprised the right wing wants government press releases published without question? Why the shock if reporters are hired and paid with tax dollars to spread the word about government programs? What if probing, dissenting, minority (like women?) reporters don't get called on at press conferences and find access difficult? Conservatives like to work hard and trust the hierarchy from which their orders come. Liberals are confused, disorganized hysterics, and why waste time on them? They just should shut up.

The notion of a free press being a liberal construct has been rather inspiring to me during the ensuing days. The conversation refreshed some thoughts I haven't had in rather a long time. I guess I've been looking at a lot of trees and not the whole forest. For many Americans the entire basis of our society is a liberal one, born from the Ages of Enlightenment and Reason. Has there ever been another nation that believed in an educated citizenry? Surely, feudal lords wanted the peasants as stupid as possible, but as Representative Ted Strickland added recently to that comment of mine, ready to go to war whenever the powerful say so. Among the first priorities of the young United States was a system of public, tax-supported schools. When radio and the telegraph and telephone were invented, the airwaves through which the technology travelled was considered public property. Our government was the steward to watch over the process for us, along with our public resources. Representative government is a liberal idea.

But our country has another side to it, another tradition. Like Australia, the United States was founded by people who weren't getting along where they were. Some were criminals or paupers, sent here to work off their debts and sentences. Some were dragged here in chains. Others came to take advantage of opportunities, strictly for the greed and fun of getting rich. Some came here to practice crime. We take pride that good conservative values and hard work can raise you up here through the class system. And we glorify the Wild West, our great outlaws, and even our more recent gangsters and celebrities of notoriety. We don't like people who "rock the boat," but we are attracted to headline-grabbers who perform deeds of outrage. We're a nation of law, but we seem also to believe that if you can get away with it, go for it. We're a nation that has experienced tragedy---wars, assassinations, catastrophes---but don't have a philosophy or religions really to account for tragedy and to include it and grow from it. Maybe we're a nation still in adolescence, without a rite of passage to adulthood yet in our tribal formula. We're a country that likes being kids, likes to play, a country of players. We're still getting to know ourselves, and whether or not we like rules...and how much of the playground is going to be ours.

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8 Jun 2005 @ 20:02 by jstarrs : Just before the referendum here (France)
on the european constitution I'd read a marvellous history book on the US constitution period, The Oxford History of the American People, Pre-history to 1789 by Samuel Eliot Morison.
It really opened my eyes to how bloated & way off the european proposal was.
Even if it's (the US constitution) simplicity leads to certain difficulties in application (the federalist part for example) & that many would say the constitution has been violated so many times, I found the story of its conception pretty inspiring.  

8 Jun 2005 @ 23:27 by Quinty @ : Do we need a few gargoyles in our lives?

In Europe they have gargoyles staring down and out at the people on the street from every church. The gargoyle, a vivid expression of the darker side of life. In the US I'm afraid we have Walt Disney's little cartoon characters dancing about. That we often relate to these cartoon characters is a deep expression of our middleclass American nature. And I wonder if it reflects upon our sense of good and evil? If Mickey is as far as we dare look into the darker side? Or has Hollywood gone well beyond that?

We have a great deal of growing up to do.

We tend - many of us - to believe we are better than everyone else in the world.

We - many of us - are profoundly provincial. (I remember a friend of ours, Ken Larson, at Bates used to like to call me a "New York provincial." it was meant in good natured jest but there was some truth to that characterization.) We are profoundly isolated as a people. And, worse, many of us our proud of our ignorance and do not want to see it disturbed. We dont like "outsiders." Even if they are across the sea or in New York, sipping their morning latte. Reading the New York Times.

We fling vitriol at the French for not being grateful for having saved them from fascism while fascism is growing here. It is nascent American fascists who do most of the satirical flinging. We do not see that such behavior makes us look bad, at least to the adults in the world. Or that it matters. Why should we be embarrassed, when we are better? And we know how to deal with the uppities here on our shores.

I recall meeting people in Terre Haute, Indiana - my mother's hometown - who believed the absolute center of the Earth was Terre Haute. And that no place could be better. I remember reading somewhere that some Christian fundamentalists believe the Garden of Eden was located in Iowa.

We have always had a scapegoat in this country. I recall a few years ago that even politicians had their turn, when, at least temporarily, African Americans, Latinos, immigrants, gays, and whoever else were no longer in fashion. But scapegoating rests on shifting sands since there's nothing rational about it. And acceptability constantly changes.

What we have to remember about the far right, I think, is that they lie, they cheat, and that they don’t care about rules. Vince Lombardi’s words - “Winning is everything” - is all that matters to them.

Here is a nice thing from John Kenneth Galbraith.

''The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.''

He said that decades ago. Today do we need to add such ingredients as hysteria? Or fear? Or religious fanaticism?

Everything that I have said brands me in rightwing minds as an angry elitist liberal who has nothing good to say about our president.

That is all perfectly true.  

9 Jun 2005 @ 15:51 by jerryvest : Can God Help Us/US?
I wish I had the words to express my disdain for "the modern conservative" as Quinty and others have shared with us. I believe that everything they say is a projection of their greed and deceipt. For example, when Bush talks about his love and appreciation for "life" and the living with his forked tongue, he is really saying, let's build a military power and weapons that can destroy anyone in 'his' republican way. It is not the American way, but perhaps we are becoming a nation and people that can never be trusted again. We may think and hope that our 'free press' and bloggers can stop this movement towards continued death and destruction, but I doubt it. We are really a bunch of sheep feeling that we have no power to stop this madness. The politicians & "R's" will never change, they just keep lieing their way into the power structure. After all is said and done, the mighty $ is all that is real to them. Can God really help us? Seems that this is just magical thinking.  

9 Jun 2005 @ 16:42 by Quinty @ : Jerry - I think what you say
is a real concern.....

"We are becoming a nation and people that can never be trusted again. "

And who has the courage on the left to buck the tide? For if the American people shift over to the right no new president or Congress will be able to turn things around. Not so long as a majority is afraid to return to the America which is passing away. Not when the right screams that our security and our way of life will be lost. Are there any Democrats who have the courage to stand up against this?

The polls show that Bush is not greatly popular. (My god, what does it take?!) But the far right is making every move it can to entrench its values into our system. And on the whole they are being successful. Just yesterday Janice Rogers Brown was confirmed by the Senate, and the right (as we all should know) is not interested in merely placing a few ideologues onto the courts: they want to go all the way.

The thought of this form of deep entrenchment scares me at times. And Hillary, to name only one, who is running for president is adopting more of these "cultural" values. She's gambling that that's the direction the wind will blow in. Let's pray to god she's wrong.

This may be a form of validation which will be very difficult to shake off.  

19 Jun 2005 @ 10:47 by jazzolog : Welles, Cruise & Bush: What's Real?
The New York Times
June 19, 2005
Two Top Guns Shoot Blanks

To understand how the Bush administration has lost the public opinion war on Iraq it may be helpful to travel in H. G. Wells's time machine back to Oct. 30, 1938.

That was the Sunday night that Orson Welles staged the mother of all fake news events: his legendary radio adaptation of another Wells fantasy, "The War of the Worlds." The audience was told four times during the hourlong show that it was fiction, but to no avail. A month after Munich, Americans afflicted with war jitters were determined to believe the broadcast's phony news flashes that Martians had invaded New Jersey. Mobs fled their homes in a "wave of mass hysteria," as The New York Times described it on Page 1, clogging roads and communications systems. Two days later, in an editorial titled "Terror by Radio," The Times darkly observed that "what began as 'entertainment' might readily have ended in disaster" and warned radio officials to mind their "adult responsibilities" and think twice before again mingling "news technique with fiction so terrifying."

That's one Times editorial, it can be said without equivocation, that didn't make a dent. Nearly seven decades later the mingling of news and fiction has become the default setting of American infotainment, and Americans have become so inured to it that the innocent radio listeners bamboozled by Welles might as well belong to another civilization. Nowhere is the distance between that America and our own more visible than in the hoopla surrounding the latest adaptation of "The War of the Worlds," the much-awaited Steven Spielberg movie opening June 29.

Like its broadcast predecessor, the new version has already proved to be a launching pad for an onslaught of suspect news bulletins. This time the headlines are less earthshaking than an invasion from outer space, but they are no less ubiquitous: in repeated public appearances, most famously on "Oprah," the Spielberg movie's star, the 42-year-old Tom Cruise, has fallen to his knees and jumped on couches to declare his undying love for the 26-year-old Katie Holmes, the co-star of another summer spectacular, "Batman Begins." Forget about those bygone Hollywood studio schemes to concoct publicity-generating off-screen romances for its stars-in-training. Here is a lavishly produced freak show, designed to play out in real time, enthusiastically enacted by the biggest star in the business. On Friday, after popping the big question to Ms. Holmes at the Eiffel Tower, Mr. Cruise promptly dragged his intended to a news conference.

But though the audience for this drama is as large as, if not larger than, that for Welles's, there's one big difference. The Cruise-Holmes romance is proving less credible to Americans in 2005 than a Martian invasion did to those of 1938. A People magazine poll found that 62 percent deem the story a stunt. To tabloid devotees, the reasons for Mr. Cruise's credibility gap are the perennial unsubstantiated questions about his sexuality and his very public affiliation with a church, Scientology, literally founded by a science-fiction writer. But something bigger is going on here. The subversion of reality that Welles slyly introduced into modern American media in 1938 has reached its culmination and a jaded public is at last in open revolt.

The boundary between reality and fiction has now been blurred to such an extent by show business, the news business and government alike that almost no shows produced by any of them are instantly accepted as truth. The market for fake news has become so oversaturated that a skeptical public is finally dismissing most of it as hooey until proven otherwise (unless it is labeled as fake news from the get-go, as it is by Jon Stewart). We'll devour the supposedly real Cruise-Holmes liaison for laughs but give it no more credence than a subplot on "Desperate Housewives."

Welles unwittingly set us on the path toward the utter destabilization of reality with "War of the Worlds," and then compounded the syndrome with his subsequent film masterpiece "Citizen Kane," a fictional biography of a thinly disguised William Randolph Hearst that invented the pseudo-journalistic docudrama. But it's only in the past few years that Welles's ideas have been taken completely over the top by his trashy heirs. Not only do we have TV movies bastardizing the history of celebrities living and dead, but there is also a steady parade of "real" celebrities playing themselves in their own fictionalized "reality" shows. (This summer alone, Bobby Brown, Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee, Hugh Hefner's girlfriends and Paris Hilton's mother are all getting their own series.) The Cruise-Holmes antics, not to mention the concurrent shenanigans of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, add yet another variant to this mix, shrewdly identified by Patrick Goldstein of The Los Angeles Times as "a new rogue genre in which celebrities act out their own reality show, free from the constraints of a network time slot or a staged setting, like a boardroom or a desert island."

Politicians who dive into this game by putting on their own reality shows think they are being very clever. But like Mr. Cruise, they're being busted by a backlash. John Kerry was the first to feel it: his stagy military pageant, complete with salute, at the Democratic National Convention came off as so phony that the greater (but more subtle) fictions of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth struck many as relatively real by comparison. George W. Bush proved a somewhat more accomplished performer - in his first term. With the help of Colin Powell and some nifty props, he effortlessly sold the country on Saddam W.M.D.'s. He got away with using a stunt turkey as the photo-op centerpiece during his surprise Thanksgiving 2003 visit to the troops in Iraq. His canned "Ask the President" campaign town-hall meetings - at which any potentially hostile questioner was either denied admittance or hustled out by goons - were slick enough to be paraded before unsuspecting viewers as actual news on local TV outlets, in the tradition of Welles's bogus "War of the Worlds" bulletins.

But the old magic is going kaput. Mr. Bush's 60-stop Social Security "presidential roadshow," his latest round of pre-scripted and heavily rehearsed faux town-hall meetings, hasn't repeated the success of "Ask the President." Support for private Social Security accounts actually declined as the tour played out and Mr. Bush increasingly sounded as if he were protesting too much. "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda," the president said on May 24. He sounded as if he were channeling Mr. Cruise's desperate repetitions of his love for his "terrific lady."

The shelf life of the fakery that sold the war has also expired. On June 7, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found for the first time that a majority of Americans believe the war in Iraq has not made the United States safer. A week later Gallup found that a clear majority (59 percent) wants to withdraw some or all American troops. Most Americans tell pollsters the war isn't "worth it," and the top reasons they cite, said USA Today, include "fraudulent claims and no weapons of mass destruction found" and "the belief that Iraq posed no threat to the United States." The administration can keep boasting of the Iraqi military's progress in taking over for Americans and keep maintaining that, as Dick Cheney put it, the insurgency is in its "last throes." But when even the conservative Republican congressman who pushed the House cafeteria to rename French fries "freedom fries" (Walter B. Jones of North Carolina) argues for withdrawal, it's fruitless. Once a story line becomes incredible, it's hard to get the audience to fall for it again.

This, too, echoes the history of the Welles hoax. Three years after his "War of the Worlds," the real nightmare that America feared did arrive. Yet some radio listeners at first thought that the reports from Pearl Harbor were another ruse. Welles would later recall in an interview with Peter Bogdanovich that days after the Japanese attack, Franklin Roosevelt sent him a cable chiding him for having cried wolf with his faked war "news" of 1938.

Such is the overload of faked reality for Americans at this point that it will be far more difficult for the Bush administration than it was for F.D.R. to persuade the nation of an imminent threat without appearing to cry wolf. Nor can it easily get the country to believe that success in Iraq is just around the corner. Too many still remember that marvelous aircraft-carrier spectacle marking the end of "major combat operations" in Iraq - a fake reality show adapted, no less, from a Tom Cruise classic, "Top Gun." Some 25 months and 1,500 American deaths later, nothing short of a collaboration by Orson Welles and Steven Spielberg could make this war fly in America now.

Last week I misstated the Friday evening on which the Pentagon buried its report certifying desecrations of the Koran by American guards. It was June 3, not May 27.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company  

30 Jun 2005 @ 10:00 by jmarc : from powerline
Democratic Party Found Guilty

Democratic Party officials in East St. Louis, Illinois have been convicted of massive voter fraud in last November's election. The local jury convicted them of, among other things, paying people to vote Democratic. This is, really, only the tip of the iceberg; still to come is an attempted murder trial arising out of the effort by a Democratic Party official to murder a witness who threatened to blow the whistle on the Democratic Party's electoral fraud. Based on press accounts, I understand that in the attempted murder case, the prosecution will offer into evidence photographs that were shown to the Democratic Party official, which appeared to show the dead body of the witness whom the Democratic Party official had ordered murdered.

Voter fraud has been a key part of the Democratic Party's electoral strategy for years. Will criminal prosecutions slow down the Democrats' efforts to commit fraud in future elections? I doubt it, but it is good to see ordinary citizens rising up, through the criminal justice system, to bring the Democratic Party to heel.  

30 Jun 2005 @ 15:25 by Quinty @ : No doubt about it
LBJ stole his Texas senate election in 1948 ("They were so enthusiastic for LBJ that they even rose from the dead to vote for him.") and in 1960 Boss Daily gave Chicago therefore Illinois therefor the presidency to JFK.

Hell, down south in the nineteenth century they would buy votes with a mere glass of whiskey. Though up north, in New England, the payoff was more gentile: in a sealed envelope.

But Jmarc's remarks sound kind of partisan. Perhaps even a little smug? You mean, the Republicans are honest? Never any hanky panky, voter intimidation, or rigged voter roles? The Republicans are so pure in heart they would never stoop to lying or duping the public in an election? Or smearing their opponents? For on their part democracy is exercised in its purest manner? Maybe we should ask Catherine Harris if she knows anything about this? Or the Prince of Darkness himself, Carl Rove?  

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